Grammar Info

N1 Lesson 10: 10/22


It's unbearable when, It'd be unbearable if, I can't stand it when, I couldn’t stand it if

(A) にはかなわない is used when one is no match for (A)



(1) ちゃ


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About てはかなわない

In order to convey that something is undesirable, the grammar structure てはかなわない may be used. This combines the conjunction particle て, the adverbial particle は, and the negative form of the う-Verb (かな)う ‘to grant (a wish)’, or ‘to realize (a goal)’. This may be interpreted as ‘it’s unbearable when (A)’, or ‘I can’t stand it when (A)’. However, the literal translation is ‘it’s not a dream come true for (A)’.
When used following verbs, the (A) verb is often in the passive. This indicates that the speaker does not like being the target or victim of (A). However, standard verb structures may also be seen.
  • 明日(あした)充電器(じゅうでんき)(わす)てはかなわないから、(いま)のうちに(かばん)()れておこう。
    It’d be unbearable if I forgot my charger tomorrow, so I am going to put it in my bag right now.
  • こう(あたま)(いた)てはかなわない
    It’s unbearable when my head aches like this.
  • 息子(むすこ)竿(さお)()られてはかなわないから、()(とど)かないところに()いておこう。
    It’d be unbearable if my son breaks my fishing rod, so I am going to put it out of reach.
  • (いま)繁忙期(はんぼうき)だしこんな(とき)にやめられてはかなわない
    It’d be unbearable if they quit during peak season.
In addition to this, てはかなわない may follow the conjunctive form of い-Adjectives, or appear as ではかなわない when following な-Adjectives.
  • 電車(でんしゃ)(となり)(すわ)っている(ひと)がくさくてはかなわない
    It is unbearable when the person sitting next to you on the train smells.
  • そうあやふやではかなわない
    It’s unbearable when you are vague like that.
Although many grammar structures frequently appear in hiragana, making their original kanji hard to identify, it will be important not to mix up (かな)う ‘to grant’ with (かな)う ‘to be a match for’. Grammatically, these verbs are both used quite differently.
  • 漢字(かんじ)とくると彼女(かのじょ)にはかなわない。
    She is no match for me when it comes to kanji.




    It's unbearable when it's cold like this.


    I can't stand getting rained on.


    It's unbearable when the people upstairs are noisy.


    It's unbearable when I am interrupted by a thoughtless person when I am speaking.


    It's unbearable when it is so humid every day like this.

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